Tummy time is recommended by just about everyone you speak to. It is so important to help your baby build strength and help to develop the muscles they need for sitting and crawling.
You should start tummy time from as early on as possible, placing your baby on a play mat or blanket on the floor, on their tummy.
However, what happens if your baby hates tummy time? Does it mean there is something wrong or are you putting them in the wrong position?
Babies hate tummy time simply because they still don’t have the neck strength to lift their head or push up their arms. This is uncomfortable for them and they want to be able to look around but feel ‘stuck.’
I have found that if my baby hates tummy time I can try alternatives and slowly ease them into it. You can make tummy time enjoyable and fun for babies that hate it with singing and games. You can even try tummy time while doing skin-to-skin!
It can be concerning if your baby hates tummy time but it is actually quite normal. Most moms find that their babies protest against tummy time in the beginning. With some patience from mom even the most finicky of babies can eventually grow to love it!
Here is what to do if your baby hates tummy time
What Do I Do If My Baby Hates Tummy Time?
There are some things you can do if your baby hates tummy time. You don’t have to let them lay there and cry it out, and you don’t have to miss out on the benefits that tummy time has either.
Here are some things to try:
Build Strength In Other Ways
If your baby absolutely refuses to do tummy time, then you can try and help them build up their strength in other ways.
They might hate tummy time because they do not feel strong enough to keep their head up on their own for long, and after building up some strength they might actually grow to like it.
Ways to do this include holding them facing away from you, so that they support their own head more than they would facing you. From here, alternate sides that you hold them on so they engage different muscles and by drying them on their tummy after a bath rather than lying on their back.
Ease Them In
Many newborns or young babies do not like tummy time, it is perfectly normal. To get them used to the idea of tummy time, you should slowly start easing them into it.
Put them on their tummy at first for a few seconds, staying happy and positive about it. Next time, increase this by a few more seconds until they are fine staying on their tummy for longer.
Short sessions of tummy time are better than none, so don’t worry if your baby is only happy to stay on their tummy for a minute or two!
Keep Them Comfortable
Nobody would want to lay on a hard, cold floor. To get your baby happy with tummy time, you have to make it comfortable for them. Lay down a soft mat and blanket for them to rest on, and try rolling up a blanket and placing it under their chest for added support.
Also only attempt tummy time when they are happy, rested, and fed, otherwise, they will be too distracted to enjoy it.
Make Tummy Time Fun
Do not leave your baby to entertain themselves during tummy time.
Newborns especially need some extra attention and will be most happy when you are lying next to them during their tummy time. Sing to them, talk to them and just be close by so they do not feel alone or bored.
As your little one gets older, you can offer some toys, whether hanging or on the floor, for them to play with. Read them some colorful board books while they are lying down or tell them a story.
All of this will encourage them to move around more and strengthen their muscles further!
Are There Alternatives To Tummy Time?
If your baby really does not like tummy time, and protests every time you lay them on their tummy, there are some alternative positions you can try which could still build up strength in their muscles.
Your baby might be happier when lap lying, as they will be close to you and feel safe. To lap lie, put your baby tummy down across your lap and hold them up gently with one hand for extra support.
You can even put a toy in front of them to keep them entertained.
Try to lay your baby down on their side rather than on their tummy. You can switch around which side they lay on so that they get to use all of their muscles.
Keep their arms in front of them as they lay on their side, and offer support with rolled-up blankets under their head. This is a great opportunity to lay in front of them and keep them entertained.
Skin-to-skin is another practice that is so recommended for parents and babies, and it offers a great way for you to let your little one lay on their tummy.
Have some skin-to-skin contact with your baby by laying them on your tummy, both with bare skin, and having their face come up to yours. They will feel much more comfortable this way, and will love being so close to you!
Holding Tummy Time
You could have your baby lay on their tummy across your arms as you carry them. Use your arms as a surface for them to lay on, and walk them around the house to keep them entertained. Being held by you and being walked around might be just what they love to do while building up their strength!
Should I Do Tummy Time Even If My Baby Cries?
Tummy time is really important from early on to help strengthen your baby’s muscles, so it is quite important to encourage tummy time even if your baby cries.
This does not mean that you need to leave your baby to lay and cry for ages. You can put them down for tummy time and pick them up after a minute or two if they become too upset.
Stay with your baby during tummy time and try to keep them comfortable and happy in order for them to stay on their tummy for longer.
Also avoid picking your baby up straight away if they cry during tummy time, unless absolutely necessary.
They might actually settle down after a little bit once they get used to being on their tummy and not cry anymore.
Picking them up too soon prevents them from settling down, and they will learn to cry to be picked up straight away!
Persevere with tummy time and make it fun for your baby, so they learn to love it!
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